Tau Beta Pi's Advisor's Book (2010)
- General Responsibilities and Authority of the Advisory Board
- Advisors at a glance
- Tau Beta Pi's Scheme of Operations
- Appendix (links to President's Book pages)
Tau Beta Pi has the best advisor corps among all honor societies. This booklet has been prepared in an attempt to answer most of your anticipated questions. It should also serve as a stimulus for closer and more cooperative relations between student and alumnus members of the Advisory Board. It is available with other useful information on the Advisor website.
For newly elected Advisors, this booklet will be of most benefit through its general description of Tau Beta Pi's operating scheme, particularly with regard to chapter relations with Headquarters and the Advisors' part in that function. For experienced Advisors who have worked for and with their chapters so long that the practices of their chapters and the policies of the Î¤Î’Î are completely familiar to them, much of the information contained herein is not new.
This is the 25th edition of this manual. The first was written in 1950 by Robert H. Nagel, P.E., who produced the first eight editions. Please pass this booklet along to your successor when he or she is elected. Additional copies are available from Headquarters and the website.
Alumni members of an Advisory Board are officers of the collegiate chapter which they serve. They need not be members of the faculty, although they customarily are. In first organizing an Advisory Board of a new chapter, the four alumnus Advisors are elected for terms of one, two, three, and four years, respectively. After a chapter has been in operation for some years, they serve for staggered terms of four years each, one new member being elected in the spring of every year at the same time that other new chapter officers are chosen. Advisors are elected by the chapter, but the board elects its own chair -- usually the alumnus member who has seniority of board service.
The full Advisory Board consists of the four alumni and the president, vice president, and corresponding secretary of the chapter, who are usually undergraduates. The board serves to guide the chapter in its procedures and projects, and the alumni are of great importance in the Tau Beta Pi scheme of operations.
Chapters are independent within the broad limitations imposed by the Constitution and Bylaws and acts of the Convention. The Constitution puts it this way: "(Convention and Executive Council) shall not interfere with the internal affairs of any chapter, except in matters of discipline . . ." where a chapter may have "acted in a manner contrary to the Constitution or prejudicial to the interests of the Association..." And again: "Subject to this Constitution and Bylaws of the Association, each chapter shall have full control of its individual affairs."
The Association -- as represented by the Convention and the Council -- bears the same relationship to our chapters as the federal government bears to the individual states. Conventions and the Council have only those powers which the chapters have given them through the Constitution.
Since there is little that the Association can legitimately do in controlling the actions of the chapters, except in extreme cases that may be formally brought to its attention, the burden of responsibility for chapter guidance must rest on the mature and experienced shoulders of the alumnus Advisors. This responsibility is best lodged at the local level anyway, where understanding of peculiar conditions is more likely to produce wise counsel than arbitrary rulings from a remote authority. Ours is a democratic, grassroots system of judicial control, and it works well when the Advisors are reasonably familiar with their chapter's thinking and procedures.
The alumnus members of the Advisory Board have one other major function: They must provide the necessary thread of continuity in chapter policies and procedures from year to year. Our undergraduate membership goes through an almost complete turnover every year. Officers and committee chairs change at least annually and, in the case of a few cooperative-education schools, as often as quarterly. In spite of numerous published instructions from Headquarters and repeated requests that retiring officers teach their successors their duties, the routine work of the chapters is occasionally not all that is hoped for. It certainly is not the responsibility of the Advisors to supervise the detailed work of the chapters; that would defeat one of Tau Beta Pi's basic aims. But it does rest with the Advisors to see that policies and practices, especially with regard to the election and initiation of new members and finances, are uniform and fair from year to year. These are areas in which the Advisors perform their most valuable work. Tau Beta Pi must look to them for the maintenance of continuity.
In general, then, the Advisory Board -- and particularly its alumnus members -- serves two broad functions of transcending importance in Tau Beta Pi:
1. The Advisory Board is the primary guiding, counseling, and controlling agency for chapter work and activities.
2. The Advisory Board supplies continuity in chapter policy and practice.
The board draws its responsibility and authority from Constitution Article VI, Section 7(b), which states: "The Advisory Board shall act as an advisory and judiciary committee to determine the advisability of any action taken or proposed by the chapter . . . . The Advisory Board, by a majority vote, may forbid any such action or change, subject to an appeal to the Executive Council of the Association." The board also draws its responsibility and authority from the kind of organization this is-one whose chapters change personnel and leadership frequently and completely.
- Four or more alumnus Advisors (faculty or non-faculty)—staggered terms
- One Advisor elected each year (three or more continue)
- Advisory Board comprises four Advisors (plus President, Vice President, and Corresponding Secretary)—elects its own chair, usually senior Advisor
- Serve as resource persons for chapter
- Have regular, formal Advisory Board meetings (minimum of one per term)
- Provide functional oversight (ensure that proper elections are held)
- Guide, oversee, counsel—do not do the work
- At least one Advisor attend every chapter meeting
- All Advisors attend all initiations—may participate in ceremony (ensure that proper Headquarters approvals are given before initiations)
- At least one Advisor attend the Convention every two years or more frequently
- Build rapport with dean's office staff
- Provide continuity for chapter operations
- Know the rules of Tau Beta Pi and the school
- Ensure communications among elements of the chapter and with Headquarters
- One Advisor may oversee finances; one, projects; another, initiation; etc.
- Review financial records; serve as Treasurer
- Provide space for chapter files and for chapter bulletin board
- See that annual Chapter Survey is submitted
- Be enthusiastic
Source: Brainstorming Session, Ideas for the Role of Advisor (Summarized and categorized by Dr. Darrell Donahue), TBP National Convention, Friday, Oct. 8, 2004, Orlando, FL
There are strong and weak Advisory Boards in Tau Beta Pi. Weak ones are generally those that have too little interest in and concern for the chapter's well-being and progress. Occasionally, a weak board takes so much interest in its chapter that it usurps the prerogatives and responsibilities of the student officers.
Strong boards, on the other hand, have found the knack of keeping informed about the chapter's activities and of maintaining judicious guidance of its major affairs -- without taking over its control. This is difficult to accomplish with uniformly smooth and satisfactory results, especially when a new corps of student officers is elected at least annually. But, the Advisors are elected by the students, and their choice should be a clear indication of the willingness and ability of the chapter and Advisors to get along well together.
Frequently, one particular faculty member may take a keen and deeply understanding interest in the group for many years. Some Advisors have served their chapters for decades -- and we sincerely appreciate their devotion. These alumni have frequently acted, with mutual consent, in the name of the four chapter Advisors because it is known that they are in close touch with the student members. Where such Advisors exist, chapter operations and service projects are usually better accomplished than where no faculty member keeps his or her finger on the students' pulse. But there are four alumni on an Avisory Board -- and each Advisor should make it his or her duty to keep a watchful eye on some phase of chapter operations.
For example, it is recommended that each chapter have one particular Advisor who makes it his or her special business to oversee chapter finances. In an organization so loosely tied together and so ever-changing as a Tau Beta Pi chapter, it is good policy to maintain a continuous vigilance over all fiscal matters. Few people will scrutinize the financial records of a chapter, and laxness in record-keeping might result from this apparent indifference. However, our chapters handle sizable sums of money every year, and no control is exercised by Headquarters, beyond keeping books on direct chapter/Headquarters financial transactions. Therefore, it is good practice for each chapter to have a faculty treasurer, who may also be a member of the Advisory Board.
It must be noted that chapter officers -- president, vice president, recording and corresponding secretaries, treasurer, and cataloger -- are required to be active members of the chapter in the technical sense of Constitution Article VI, Section 1.
A few chapters have had faculty corresponding secretaries for many years. This officer is very important as far as Headquarters relations are concerned, and an experienced person in the position is a tremendous help to the chapter. This is especially true in connection with our rather complicated new-member election and initiation procedure, and the essential and detailed reports to Headquarters that go with it. But there may be some question as to whether this important post ought to be held by an alumnus member who thus deprives a student of what educational value the job carries and what leadership opportunities it presents. This matter, like most other Tau Beta Pi affairs, remains within the jurisdiction of the chapter.
An important job -- but an unofficial one because it is not prescribed in the Constitution or Bylaws -- is that of Chief Advisor for the chapter. Occasionally, it is necessary for Headquarters to transfer information to or from a chapter when school is closed or the group is temporarily disbanded. At such times, the Chief Advisor is most helpfulâ€”during either the winter holidays or the summer recess as the recipient of keys and certificates for initiates and as delivery agent for the instructional material mailed as school opens in the fall and before officers have Headquarters of their new addresses. The Chief Advisor may also serve as the Chair of the Advisory Board.
The Convention has adopted a standard Chapter Officer Installation Procedure and urges its use by all chapters. While informal, the procedure provides a convenient and impressive opportunity for the official transfer of duties and properties from one set of chapter officers to their successors. Both a retirement and inauguration ceremony, it includes provision for a change in Advisor, and requires that an Advisory Board member preside during the ceremony. A copy of the procedure is in the Appendix of this booklet.
Annual judging for the R. C. Matthews Outstanding Chapter and the R. H. Nagel Most Improved Chapter Awards is done by a Convention committee of student delegates. Basis for judging includes the reports and projects of the chapters and evaluations of their performance by their own Advisors. Advisor participation in completing the Annual Chapter Survey and its related project descriptions is important to the chapter and to the judges.
Here are other possible duties or activities of the advisors:
- Audit the financial records of the chapter at the end of each year;
- Serve on initiation teams to lend an element of faculty interest at that important ceremony;
- Attend routine meetings, possibly on a rotating basis among the alumni;
- Provide space for the chapter files and equipment when the chapter has no special room;
- Provide space to hang the framed chapter charter -- perhaps in the office of the Chief Advisor, if the charter cannot be permanently and properly displayed in the dean's office;
- Provide services to aid in the preparation of chapter records and reports;
- Review the chapter election procedure and the chapter bylaws; and
- Attend the Convention and/or District conferenece.
Chapters have always been encouraged to develop individualism -- within the limits of our Constitution. To discuss an average chapter may appear to be encouraging uniformity, but that is not intended. When student officers are confronted with a problem, they are likely to ask your advice. These statistics from our Annual Chapter Surveys may prove valuable.
1. Elections. About 60 percent of the students scholastically eligible under the Constitution are elected to membership in the average school. This figure tends to be higher for small schools and lower for large schools. A few chapters set a grade-point-average deadline below which no student will be considered. This GPA- deadline is usually higher for juniors than for seniors and is normally provided for in the chapter's bylaws. In all cases, the minimum GPA establishes a higher local membership qualification than that required by the Constitution. (In general, the Association is opposed to chapter scholarship requirements above the Constitutional limit because they make Tau Beta Pi membership mean something different on these campuses.)
2. Projects. Nearly all chapters have one or more projects -- usually service activities -- which are conducted for the benefit of the college or university. Experience has shown that such projects are indeed the life-blood of the chapter. Information about several interesting projects is on the website.
3. Initiation Fee. The average total initiation fee of all chapters is about $70-75, which includes the national fee of $32 and the annual Convention pro-rated assessment of $7. Initiation fees range from about $40 to $80 and often include a banquet charge. All local activities are sometimes paid for at one time in a high fee; chapters with low fees customarily levy dues and charge admission for banquets and other social events in addition to the initiation fee. Fees should always be charged to alumnus and eminent initiates.
4. Meetings. The average chapter has 19 meetings a year although some have as many as 30. At these meetings, an average of 43 percent of the members attend. Attendance problems are sometimes solved by levying fines for missing important meetings without a valid cause.
5. Awards. Many chapters give annual prizes (such as a calculator, a textbook, or an engineering handbook) to the top-ranking students in the sophomore or freshman classes. Such prizes are traditionally awarded at the university honors convocation or at a chapter banquet. Mementos to retiring Advisors, chapter officers, and outstanding chapter members are highly encouraged. Some chapters award scholarships with the chapter's savings -- where the money is available; this worthwhile project is also encouraged.
The Tau Beta Pi scheme of operations differs quite basically from that of most other honor societies in that faculty participation in chapter business affairs (specifically, new-member elections) is minimal. This stems from the fundamental premise that the Association shall be controlled by the students and for the students. Aside from a relatively few areas of alumnus participation -- whether or not the alumni are active members of the chapter in the technical sense -- the Constitution prohibits the faculty from having a dictatorial voice in chapter affairs. (See Const. Art. VI, Sec. 1.)
Any alumnus member of Tau Beta Pi may become an active member of a collegiate chapter by expressing his or her desire, in writing, to the chapter president and by being formally accepted by chapter vote. Advisory Board members may or may not be active members, at their and the chapter's discretion.
Because essential control of business affairs and responsibility for reporting certain major chapter actions to Headquarters are vested in student members, the Headquarters staff is placed at something of a disadvantage. Of course, all new officers must be trained in their responsibilities. The District Program is designed in major part to help solve this educational problem. District Directors meet with their chapter officers and Advisors (and sometimes even deans) to explain policies and procedures. You are encouraged to attend your District conferences where incoming and outgoing officers and Advisors exchange ideas on chapter activities.
Headquarters is responsible for checking and approving new-member elections -- Tau Beta Pi's most important function -- and must do so without detailed and specific knowledge of local and personal circumstances. It must keep accurate records of chapter membership and activities without being there to count noses and witness the conduct of initiations. These things, and many more, it must do as a helpful, professional, and friendly agency that serves its memebrs with excellence.
But to do otherwise would deprive the students of the chance to run their own show and of most of the broad educational opportunities inherent in student-controlled activities; it would keep them from trying their skill at leadership; and it would make Tau Beta Pi a faculty-operated organization. If the faculty were in charge of elections and initiations, Tau Beta Pi would be something very different from what it is, and not something better, we think.
Our scheme of operations is both our weakness and our strength. It causes trouble and makes for inefficiency and mistakes. But it provides deep significance to membership in the Association and this, we firmly believe, far outweighs its disadvantages. In Tau Beta Pi, democracy works! It works especially well with top-notch young students who have been selected by their peers on the basis of scholastic attainment and exemplary character.
But this operational scheme involves you, the Advisor -- your chapter needs your guidance, support, and enthusiasm. Basically, your responsibility is to be concerned with maintenance of the routine operation of your chapter and with the quality of its program. The worthiness of Tau Beta Pi and the value of excellence rest in large measure on your shoulders. Thank you for your willingness to serve your chapter and the Association!
Included in the Appendix of the printed manual are several extracts from the President's Book. Please see the following for more information:Routine Correspondence
The District Program
Qualifications of Eminent Engineers
Facts for Electees
The Advisory Board
Chapter Officer Installation Procedure
Fellowship & Scholarship Programs
Student Loan Program
Engineering Futures Program
Greater Interest in Government Program
National Outstanding Advisor Award Program
Student Assistance Fund
Distinguished Alumnus Award Program
McDonald Mentoring Award Program
Chapter Performance Scholarship Program
Secretary's Commendation Award Program
Association Jargon & Proper Use of Insignia